Every fall, Springfield College’s incoming students all gather for four days of New Student Orientation where they get a chance to meet their peers and classmates, get a taste of college life and get acclimated to campus before classes start. But every January, there is another, shorter orientation for a different group of students: second-semester transfer students.
This year, Springfield College welcomed 25 transfers for the second semester. These students have a different experience than many other students. Although they are new to Springfield College, they all have had experience at a different institution.
Among these transfer students was Dale DeCouto. The sophomore is at his third school and decided on Springfield College for a variety of reasons.
“I transferred from Bristol Community College in Fall River, Mass. last semester and I was at Limestone College in South Carolina my freshman year, so this is the second time I’ve transferred,” said DeCouto. “I came to Springfield because they have one of the best physical education programs in the country. I also came here to run track, and they have an impressive indoor track facility.”
Students who transfer in the second semester in particular face a unique challenge. Students who transfer in the spring go through NSO with all other incoming students and benefit from the four days of orientation. Second-semester transfers have a slightly different experience.
“In the fall, there’s a separate transfer component where I think they’re really sensitive to the needs of a transfer student,” said Anne Goodeve, the Springfield College Transfer Coordinator. “I think the fall transfer program is incredible; it gives them the opportunity to bond with peers and other transfers and also discuss some issues that are relevant to transfers specifically. January, it’s a little bit more condensed. It’s just one day.”
While the January Orientation program is much more condensed, this year’s program ran very smoothly. The program essentially ran for one night and a day and was designed to get the transfer students acclimated and comfortable with campus, each other and campus leaders.
“The transfer students gather with the NSO leaders and become acquainted with one another at dinner,” said NSO Head Women’s Leader Katie Belleau. “The transfer students were then greeted by Keith Moore and Tarome Alford and a number of RAs in the Alumni Foyer. This allows the students to meet a number of student leaders on campus before the semester begins. After a brief overview of living on campus and the Springfield College community, the transfers were asked if they would enjoy watching a movie together. The overall consensus was to sit in the Alumni Foyer and simply talk. The NSO leaders allowed any questions to be asked about the college anonymously.”
DeCouto found the orientation a little overwhelming but overall helpful in settling down.
“Orientation was a bit of an information overload,” said DeCouto. “It basically took up the entire day and it was the day before classes started. I hadn’t even got settled into my room yet and I had to get dragged around for 12 hours. But it was helpful that signing up for classes and getting my student ID was part of the orientation.”
Second-semester transfer students face a different challenge than most students, even other transfers: they move onto a campus where everyone is already acclimated. They do not have a large freshman class that is in the same position they are.
“The hardest part of transferring is just getting adjusted to a new environment,” said DeCouto. “Everyone else had spent at least a term here, so it’s difficult being the one new guy that doesn’t know anybody or know anything about the campus.”
Orientation is designed to help transfers overcome this challenge and by placing transfers with roommates who have been on campus for at least a year, these second-semester transfers will hopefully feel comfortable in a short amount of time.
Most transfers fall into two camps according to Goodeve. The first are students who were unhappy with the experience at a former institution and choose to look elsewhere.
“The other type that I think we see a lot more often than ever before because of the economy, is that they’ve actually chosen to do two years somewhere else at a community college or a junior college because of cost effectiveness and then they’ve planned to transfer all along,” said Goodeve.
Springfield College has agreements with local community colleges, including Springfield Technical Community College, Holyoke Community College and Greenfield Community College, that allow students to smoothly transition from these institutions to Springfield College. This national trend allows students to start at a much more cost-effective institution and begin work on their degrees before transferring to a four-year institution like Springfield College.
As most students get back to the day to day life of Springfield College, they should remember that there are students around them who are dealing not only with classes, homework and practice but adjusting to a new school. Thankfully, according to DeCouto, Springfield College students are making his transition easier.
“So far, I like it at Springfield. Everyone here is nice and all of my teachers have been good,” said DeCouto. “And the food is much better than my previous colleges.”
Josh Ernst may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org